By Rachel Puryear, Attorney and Real Estate Broker
Hi there, friends of Free Range Law. I know it’s been a while, and I thank those of you who have reached out and said they have missed my posts. I have missed writing them, too, and am glad to be back.
Like millions of others, I was quite absorbed in the election for a while, and was very relieved to see Trump defeated, even though I also know we are not out of the woods yet as a nation. The election also showed us all some key takeaways:
Yes, some votes are given more weight than others, with our Electoral College system, and that’s wrong. But still, states like Georgia and Arizona flipped after being longtime reliable Republican-leaning states. That would not have happened without serious voter turnout efforts. And if you have not yet thanked Stacey Abrams for her incredible work in strategic voter outreach in Georgia, please do so.
Voter Suppression is an Ongoing Problem, Though Voter Fraud is Not a Thing:
Remember that 2016 was the first election since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Since 2016, nationwide grassroots efforts to reach out to voters and increase voter turnout was enough to just defeat the effects of racist vote-suppressing laws enacted after 2013 (like voter ID laws, for instance, which disproportionately bar elderly black people from voting; or removing requirements to provide adequate polling stations, which result in much fewer polling stations in urban and predominantly minority areas). Efforts to suppress minority votes will continue to be a problem, and the only way to overcome it (usually by just enough) is to continue to stay ahead of suppression efforts by constantly working to increase voter turnout and push back by helping organizations like the ACLU.
Down-Ballot and Local Races Matter, Too:
As wonderful as Trump’s defeat is, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is every bit as evil and vicious as Trump – but much more capable. McConnell also kept his Senate seat this time, unfortunately. This is why the upcoming Senate races in Georgia in January are also incredibly critical – winning both results in a Senate tie between Republicans and Democrats. And while that does not get rid of McConnell, it does mean that Madame VP Kamala Harris (congratulations to her for awesomely breaking that glass ceiling, as a Californian I’m so proud of her!) becomes the tie-breaking vote for the Senate and diminishes McConnell’s chokehold.
On another note, in my local city of San Mateo, the ultra-NIMBY Measure Y has apparently passed by about 40 votes, sadly. This measure locks in severe 30-year-old limits on development in this city for another ten years, and seriously hurts efforts at building more affordable and sustainable housing. A few dozen more votes could have made a difference.
The Next Steps:
So many of us look forward to this new Administration, with appropriately cautious optimism. The celebrations are absolutely warranted, and well deserved.
At the same time, serious and ongoing problems like racism, misogyny, hate, too much economic inequality and barriers to getting ahead, the pandemic, and problems like climate change caused by inadequate attention to the environment and sustainability, and much more; still remain serious problems. Much more progress is needed, but can still be made if we all do even our small part.
We already need to be looking ahead to 2022, and 2024. Continuing the work of the past four years will be key to defeating more hateful and oppressive leaders, while increasing ones who can move us all ahead instead of backwards.
Stay safe and healthy this holiday season, my friends.